Minister admits land prices are high

Updated 16 January 2015

Minister admits land prices are high

Over 119,000 citizens have failed to get home loans because of high land prices in the Kingdom, Housing Minister Shuwaish Al-Dhuwaihi revealed at a recent Shoura Council meeting, where he also had to defend the ministry against accusations of incompetence and corruption.
Al-Dhuwaihi said land prices increased tenfold recently, which resulted in citizens not qualifying for loans. “It is an issue we cannot deny,” he was quoted as saying at the meeting by a local publication.
Al-Dhuwaihi said the ministry has prepared a “detailed study” on the issue and submitted it to the Supreme Economic Council for further action. The ministry would press for fees on vacant land as part of efforts to bring down real estate prices, he said.
Several Shoura members were critical of the ministry, saying it has not been performing well including failing to deliver housing projects on time and not having qualified staff.
One member, Sultan Al-Sultan, called on the minister to resign, as he did when the Shoura discussed the ministry’s report last March. Al-Sultan said the Council of Ministers and the Shoura Council should have a joint meeting to discuss the housing issue.
Al-Sultan said the delays have been caused by unqualified subcontractors and staff who have inadequate technical knowledge. He accused the ministry of financial corruption because it had allegedly awarded a consultancy 15 percent of the value of a contract, while only 5 percent was the international norm.
Other members said the ministry was grouping citizens with low incomes in housing projects, which was creating an “unhealthy environment.” Abdullah Al-Jeghaiman, a member, said the ministry was “putting out fires” and did not have long-term solutions.
In response, Al-Dhuwaihi promised to complete the ministry’s delayed projects as soon as possible. He said the ministry would announce in the coming days several projects that would be completed on time.
He said the ministry does have qualified staff, but too few of them. The ministry was also making an effort to reduce the waiting period for loans from 16 to 10 years, with plans to cut it to five years.
He said that in some governorates citizens are only waiting for two years for loans. The ministry has already determined how many citizens would receive support, he said.
Al-Dhuwaihi said the ministry does not provide loans to individuals. Families are entitled to this support. “So if one spouse owns a house, the loan and support would go to another family,” he said.
In reaction to the corruption allegations, he said the Shoura members are free to check all the contracts awarded by the ministry, including building and design costs, which are lower than the international average.
He said the ministry would not have a shortfall of funds to carry out the projects because of the fall in oil prices because these funds have already been allocated from the budget surpluses of previous years.


Egyptian envoy meets Saudi foreign minister

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan receives Egyptian Ambassador Ahmed Farouk Mohammed Tawfik in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
Updated 19 November 2019

Egyptian envoy meets Saudi foreign minister

  • The foreign minister appreciated the outgoing envoy’s efforts in strengthening the ties between Saudi Arabia and Sudan

RIYADH: Egyptian Ambassador Ahmed Farouk Mohammed Tawfik called on Saudi Foreign Minister  Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh on Monday. They reviewed bilateral relations and ways to enhance them. They also discussed issues of mutual interest.
The foreign minister also held a separate meeting with Mexican Ambassador-designate Anibal Toledo. He presented a copy of his credentials to Prince Faisal prior to submitting them to King Salman.
Sudanese Ambassador Abdulazim Al-Sadiq Al-Karoori called on Prince Faisal bin Farhan to bid him farewell. The foreign minister appreciated the outgoing envoy’s efforts in strengthening the ties between Saudi Arabia and Sudan.